Having not been put off the idea of purchasing a property in France by our first house hunting experience, we promptly set about organising our next trip when we returned home.
We thought we’d find out what it was like to fly to France to see how feasible regular trips were. Remember, we were looking for somewhere that we could use as a holiday home but eventually live in at some point in the future - we weren’t looking for a business to run from the UK!
We really loved the area of the Parc naturel régional Périgord Limousin which we had passed through on our first trip so we thought we would concentrate there. It is filled with rolling wooded hills, numerous lakes and rivers lakes and it in the southern part of the Limousin. The park borders on the Dordogne but is much cheaper than the so called Brit stronghold of “Dordogneshire”. The idea of living in a protected area was also appealing.
Ryanair fly to Limoges, the capital of Limousin just to the north of the Parc. We found some cheap flights and organised a hire car. We took only hand luggage as it was just a long weekend break and being August we expected the weather to be warm – fortunately we were right! I concentrated on finding properties to view in the area and by the time we set off we had four houses to see. I also started getting in touch with French property law specialists so we had things in place if we did put in an offer.
We stopped en-route to pick up some supplies for a picnic and in doing so accidentally discovered the ruined chateau of Les Cars. The chateau dates from the 16th century and was almost totally destroyed during the French Revolution. We continued on our way passing contented herds of golden-red Limousine cattle which originate from this area.
The problem was the kitchen / diner / lounge was spread over a large cellar. This large room had a wooden floor which was bowed in the middle we found that there were no proper supports beneath it when we looked in the cellar. There was distinctive movement when you walked on the floor. There was no real kitchen to speak of either, just a sink, a couple of cupboards and an oven stuck out on its own. It all really needed to be ripped out and replaced but at the price they were asking it just wasn’t worth it. We thanked our host and set off for a rendezvous with an immobilier in St Jean de Cole just over the border in the Dordogne. On the way we stopped for a picnic lunch by one of the numerous lakes in the area - we had the perfect weather for it!
We saw the property with the huge barn pictured in my last post below. Andy was quite overwhelmed by the size of the barn and what on earth we would do with it so we didn't pursue it.
This time we were seeing two properties, one that I only just discovered on the agent’s website just before we left the UK. The vendor had dropped the price so it had now fell within our budget (not that the immobilière had mentioned this to us...I'm not always sure what they do to earn their sometimes large fees...). The details on the website were sparse so we weren’t really sure what to expect except that it was on what looked to be a main road. This was slightly off putting as you can imagine. It was the first house we went to and we were busy chatting with our charming Irish agent and so were not paying much attention as we pulled into the drive. That soon changed!
We followed the agent inside to explore the living accommodation. On the ground floor were three reception rooms and a kitchen. All were in reasonable condition and looked as if they just needed a bit of TLC. There was also a shower-room that had been installed by the current owner. Upstairs we found 4 large well lit bedrooms and a lovely family bathroom. Up another flight of stairs there was an unconverted loft-space as big as the floor below.
It had plenty of headroom and proper windows (not veluxs!) were already installed – it was light, bright and perfect for conversion with a solid wood floor. All of the windows on each floor gave views of the garden and surrounding countryside. Next we went outside to explore the large garden which was filled with fruit trees and a small neglected potager. At the end of the garden was a small flat field – perfect for that pool we were dreaming of lounging by one day. Underneath the building was a large cellar, the same size as the floors above which you could access directly from the terrace at the back – not that I stuck around long as the place was covered in spider webs (I left Oz to avoid the damn things!).
We spent a good hour exploring the property and its grounds and then set off for the next house which we quickly dismissed. It was a dank holiday home with no back garden with a very strange layout – including a loft accessed via a very dodgy staircase. We didn’t stick around there too long and soon returned with the agent to pick up our car. When then headed off to the B&B that we had booked for the weekend. We had a lot to discuss that evening over a nice bottle of red (or two)!